Early american transportation

Essay by sigepstewUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, April 2004

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Early American Transportation

As the United States formed with the writing of the constitution, a bond was formed that connected every state. Now there needed to be a physical connection within the states, connecting the states, and pushing into the frontier.

The first transportation routs even before there was major settlement in the Americas, was trails that the Indians used for trade. As major settlement began in the new world, major trail building began in order to establish trade between the colonies. There were several drawbacks to traveling by trails. Horseback and horse drawn carriages were the only way to travel and the horses could not carry large amounts of goods.

Wagon trails were the first major transportation routs. Wagon trails spanned the entire continent, with the Oregon Trail being the most famous. Many small trails were built that connected the many small towns of early America. Weather played a major hindrance on the wagon roads.

Any amount of rain would turn the dirt road into a mud swamp. Wagons had to have high axels in order to be able to make it through the muddy roads.

The next major advance in the road system is the creation of the turnpike. The "turnpike era" lasted from 1800-1830. Turnpikes were owned by individual companies that charged a certain amount of money to travel on their private road. The Lancaster turnpike was one of the best turnpikes. The top turnpikes were built on a solid stone foundation with gravel spread on top, but most of the turnpikes were just loose gravel with drainage ditches on either side of the road. The most famous turnpike was a federal road-building project called the National Road. The National Road started in Cumberland, Maryland and reached Wheeling, Virginia in 1815. By the 1850's, the National Road...